If you have an L1 visa and you’re interested in staying in the United States permanently, you’re in luck—the L1 visa to green card process is one of best routes to permanent residency in the US. In this post, we’ll go over the different types of the L1 visa, why the L1 visa to green card process is preferable, how to qualify for an L1 visa, and how you can pursue a green card through change of status.
The Two Types: L1A Visa vs L1B Visa
There are two types of L1 visas. The first is the L1A visa, which is for multinational managers or executives. This visa is valid for up to seven years including extensions. The second is the L1B visa, which is for foreign individuals who possess specialized skills and knowledge. This type of L1 visa is valid for up to five years including extensions. You may apply for an employment based green card with either of these visas.
Requirements for L1 Visa to Green Card
If you wish to pursue L1 visa to green card change of status, you will need to meet the following requirements for an employment-based green card for multinational executives and managers:
- You have worked for a company outside of the US for at least one of the last three years.
- Your position in the US is of a managerial or executive level. You may also qualify if you possess specialized skills or knowledge.
- Both your intended US employer and your foreign employer will need to continue to be active throughout the whole application process.
- Your foreign employer and your US employer have a qualifying relationship.
- The US employer has been doing business for at least one year.
- You do not have a criminal record, which could be grounds for inadmissibility.
Additional information on the EB-1 green card category can be found here or on the USCIS website.
As an L1A or L1B visa holder, you are allowed to work part-time and there are no wage requirements. In addition to these distinct advantages, the L1 visa also allows for dual intent. Whereas other visas require you to prove your intent to return to your country once your visa expires, dual intent permits you to pursue a green card while you are in the US on an L1 visa.
When petitioning for permanent residency as an L1A or L1B visa holder, you will need to provide multiple documents, including proof of your employment in a managerial or executive level, proof of the companies financial standings, as well as proof of your L1 status.
L1A Visa to Green Card – Managers and Executives
As an L1A visa holder, you will apply for the EB1C category for employment based green cards. There are several advantages of L1A to green card:
- No PERM labor certification process
- No conditional green card period
- Less time consuming than other green card options
If you are applying for an EB1C category green card and you already have your L1A visa, you will first need your employer to file Form I-140 (petition for immigrant workers) as well as Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status).
L1B Visa to Green Card – Specialized Skills or Knowledge
If you qualify for an L1B visa, you must go through the PERM labor certification. This is usually a lengthy process that can take years to complete, so you should plan to begin the process as soon as you are eligible. As an L1B visa holder, you will apply for the EB-3 or EB-2 immigrant visa categories. You will also need your employer to file form I-140 on your behalf.
Though there are some differences in their paths to a green card, both the L1A and the L1B visa are good starting points for obtaining permanent residency in the US. However, getting a green card can be fraught with unforeseen complications—a skilled immigration attorney can be a vital asset. Contact us to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with Katz Law Office, Ltd. and begin your journey toward permanent residency today.
None of the advice contained in these materials serves as a substitute for individualized legal representation by a licensed attorney with experience in the practice area.